After much opposition, the ordinance on the Triple Talaq Bill was passed with a huge majority of 245 to 11 votes in the Lok Sabha. The Lower House, headed by Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, rejected all amendments, amidst a walkout staged by the members of Congress as well as that of AIADMK.
Titled the ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights [Marriage] Bill’, the bill sought to criminalize Talaq e Biddat, or Triple Talaq, as a punishable offence with imprisonment upto 3 years. The opposition, as in Rajya Sabha, attempted to stall the bill, recommending that it be sent to a select committee of parliamentarians from both the houses, which BJP vociferously refused.
However, what surprised many was the way Smriti Irani defended the bill. An unequivocal nationalist and strong supporter of women empowerment [not the selective campaigning one], the Textiles Minister went hammer and tongs after the opposition, demolishing them point by point. Smriti Irani spared none in her onslaught, and the man who suffered the most was CPI [Marxist] member and Lok Sabha MP, Muhammad Salim.
To begin with, she replied to his poetic arguments with a shayari quoted by Sushma Swaraj, as she said, “Idhar udhar ki baat mat kar, ye bata karwaan kisne loota” [Don’t beat around the bush, and tell us who robbed the caravan]. She then took a dig with the following quote:
“Jinhone karwaan loota wahi insaaf ki duhaai de rahe hain” [Those who robbed the caravan are crying for justice].
Smriti Irani then talked about the controversial Shah Bano case of 1986, where the victim was robbed of her alimony by the Rajiv Gandhi led government, who overturned the decision of the Supreme Court that awarded her alimony in lieu of her divorce.
Smriti Irani also questioned the opposition of their hypocrisy on the issue of women empowerment, as she responded to the question of why a civil matter like divorce should be viewed from a criminal viewpoint.
To quote her, “Those who are asking this should remember that there was a time, when these very people said that why should law deal with the civil matter of dowry, when neither the giver nor the seeker has any problem with the same…If the law of 1986 had any power, Shayra Shah Bano need not have knocked the doors of the Supreme Court to get justice.”
However, despite the heckling of the opposition members, Smriti Irani was in no mood to budge off. When Muhammad Salim mocked Meenakshi Lekhi for quoting verses from the Quran, Smriti Irani gave an effective retort to him, as she said, “You should be proud that the House is allowing verses from the Quran to be quoted in the course of pursuing justice.”
She even quoted from the Quran in terms of the contract in context with the Triple Talaq. To quote her, “ If I can dare to quote from the Quran, Verse 231 says ‘When he divorces the woman and they fulfill the term of iddat, either take them back on equal terms, or set them free on equal terms. Even the masses of this nation know that if a contract is canceled, it cannot be done so unilaterally.”
However, when Muhammad Salim tried to interrupt Smriti Irani in between, she beat him at his own game as she said, ‘If you want to hear the name of Hazrat sahib from me, have some guts to sing the Hanuman Chalisa, then I may entertain your request.”
Smriti Irani then ended her response with the following words:
“It is shameful for everyone that 477 cases of triple talaq came to light after the Supreme Court verdict. She said that even the Islamic Jurisprudence also says that ‘Talaq-e-Biddat’ is a criminal offence.
This particular Triple Talaq has been found bad in theology, in the eyes of Supreme Court and I beseech this House to find it bad in Legislation also.”
To be honest, we are proud that Smriti Irani did not budge to the constant bullying and heckling from the Opposition, and made her stance clear the government has implemented the bill only to give thousands of oppressed Muslim women their long due justice, and not just hanker for vote banks in view of the upcoming elections of 2019.